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What’s Cool Where I’m From? Find Your Home State in the Collections!

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This blog was coordinated by Alli Hartley-Kong with contributions from Junior Fellows Khrisma McMurray and Kim Grossett, and interns Danielle Fedrigo and Jade Castillo Hermosillo.

One of my favorite things about working at the Library of Congress is the incredible array of people who are our colleagues, staff, and visitors. As a proud New Jersey native, I’m always excited when visitors in the share that they are also from New Jersey. I tell them about how our collection includes a photograph of the house where Bruce Springsteen wrote Born to Run, a song featured on the National Recording Registry, and how I researched New Jersey suffragette Alison Turnbull Hopkins in our newspaper reading room.

This summer, we welcomed Junior Fellows and interns from around the country. To learn how to mine the Library’s vast online collections, they searched famous people and events from their own states. Read below to see what they found!

Michigan and New York

Portrait of Rosa Parks at the White House after receiving the 1996 Presidential Medal of Freedom, Washington, D.C. From Rosa Parks Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

“One of my favorite things about Michigan is its shoreline—the huge great lakes, beautiful sand dunes, and abundant lighthouses. What’s even cooler about Michigan are the amazing people that have lived there. Did you know that Rosa Parks and Sojourner Truth both called Michigan home? The Library of Congress has a large collection of Rosa Parks’ papers, including some from her time spent in Detroit. While her papers show the important work she did in Michigan and other places, my favorite is a note that was sent to her by schoolchildren from my home city. I especially liked this because it shows the way she connected with people.

I attend college in Rochester, New York–home to both suffragist Susan B. Anthony and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Today, they are buried in the same cemetery. Susan B. Anthony played an important role in getting women in the United States the right to vote, and after each election many women visit Anthony’s gravesite to place their “I voted” stickers on her headstone.”

-Informal Learning Office virtual intern Danielle Fedrigo, Rochester University undergraduate, majoring in English & American Sign Language


A woman in a dress kneels before the grave of Susan B. Anthony while a woman behind her, also in a dress, looks on.
Anita Pollitzer and Alice Paul at Susan B. Anthony gravesite, July 19-23, Rochester, N.Y. Records of the National Women’s Party, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress


Page from the California Column book.
The California column. G.H Pettis, published 1908. From Library of Congress General Collections.

“On the surface, California is undoubtedly a beautiful state with amazing scenery. However, I only came across California history in middle school classes about the Gold Rush. As interesting as this event was, not many people know of the California Column. This was an infantry unit formed in 1862 of about 2,300 Californians who trudged over 900 miles through Arizona and New Mexico to help drive off Confederate soldiers in Texas. I wish I had learned about this in school. I encourage everyone to look deeper into the history of wherever or whatever they think is “not that cool” or “interesting” because the chances are that you will find something you do not expect.”

-  Young Readers Center & Programs Lab onsite intern Jade Castillo Herrmosillo, University of Pennsylvania undergraduate student, majoring in History and Russian/Eastern European Studies

Two Junior Fellows  also joined our department earlier this summer. Here’s what they discovered.

Texas and North Carolina

An elderly white man wearing a cowboy hat and playing a guitar stands in front of a microphone, with two men playing guitars behind him.
Country singer-songwriting legend Willie Nelson, age 80 at the time of this photograph, performs with his band, “Family,” at Rodeo Austin, the city’s annual stock show and rodeo. Photo by Carol Highsmith. Courtesy Prints and Photographs division, Library of Congress

“Though Alaska is bigger and more people live in California, there are lots of things that stand out about my home state of Texas. One of those is the music industry. Country music has always been a mainstay in the Texas music scene, and is home to Willie Nelson who won the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2015. The stars of other genres are also “big and bright deep in the heart of Texas”. Janis Joplin was born and raised in Port Arthur, Texas, and performed at various venues in Austin while attending The University of Texas.

My adopted state of North Carolina also has a national reputation as a “music state”— particularly when it comes to jazz and the blues. Jazz greats John Coltrane and Nina Simone were both born in North Carolina, although Coltrane moved to Pennsylvania after high school and Simone moved to New York City to attend Julliard School of Music. Coltrane’s albums “Giant Steps”  and “A Love Supreme” were added to the National Registry in 2004, and in 2015 respectively.  Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam” was added to the National Registry in 2018.”

– Informal Learning Office Junior Fellow Kim Grossett, M.S. in Library and Information Science candidate at Catholic University

A mural of Nina Simon as an older woman with a gold helmet behind her.
A neighbor explained “That is Nina Simone, a Spanish guy did it, his friends own the house. First he painted her with and afro, then he painted her old.” 1141 Albany Ave., Chicago, 2015. Photo by Camilo Vergara. Courtesy Prints and Photographs Division.


“Although I saw many photos of rows of corn when looking for Indiana in the Library’s collection, trust me when I say there is more than corn in my home state!  Indiana has lots to offer from Garfield the cat to David Letterman, nothing comes close to the excitement of being the racing capital of the world. Every year, thousands of people from all over flock to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for an epic, high-speed automobile race—the Indianapolis 500. As a Hoosier, I don’t have to sit on my couch and watch it on TV. I have the chance to go in person and even meet some of the drivers! You can learn more about the history of the Indianapolis 500 through newspapers stored in Chronicling America. Check out this guide to read articles like “World’s Fastest Cars and Most Daring Drivers Make Indianapolis Race a Thrilling Event”.

-Informal Learning Office Junior Fellow Khrisma McMurray, graduate student at IUPUI in Indiana pursuing a Masters in Library and Information Science

An aerial view of a large car racetrack
Aerial view of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, host track of the venerable Indianapolis 500 auto race, held every Memorial Day weekend in Speedway, Indiana, an enclave of the Indiana capital city of Indianapolis. Photo by Carol Highsmith, courtesy Prints and Photographs Division.


Summer may be drawing to a close, but we encourage you to explore your states virtually on days where the weather doesn’t encourage outdoor play.

Here are some places to start:

What does the Library of Congress have about your home state? Leave us a note in the comments with your finds!







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